Nutrition plays a crucial role in strengthening the skin’s defenses to deal with the multiple attacks on a daily basis. Nutritional deficits are often related to health disorders, while diets can have either positive or negative effects. In recent years, dietary supplements have emerged as an effective way to strengthen the body, and keep our skin healthy and beautiful.
“With the rise in human life expectancy, there is an imperative need to be and look healthy, if we want to enjoy it to the fullest. Skin, especially of the face, is one of the most important determinant factors of attractiveness, and nutrition is one of the most important determinant factors of health skin. It has been shown that malnutrition or the inability to absorb vitamins, proteins and amino acids have negative consequences. On the other hand, a balanced diet provides the skin with nutrients that are essential both for its defense and for glowing”, as explained by Mr. Dimitris Oikonomakis, Specialist in Dietetics.
For instance, during the summer, which is the worst season when considering the skin, taking care of what we eat helps us to avoid skin lesion caused by sun exposure. Many studies have been carried out regarding the effects of foods on the development of ultraviolet radiation-related skin; ultraviolet radiation causes – directly or indirectly – light-induced injuries and has consequences on DNA, while contributing in the development of erythema, premature aging, light-induced immunosuppression and cancer.
The findings of a review of studies demonstrated that there is a positive correlation between fat & meat intake and basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma of the skin. It has also been found, among various others things, that hyperpigmentation (i.e. dark spots on the skin that appear after prolonged sun exposure) is associated with vitamin B12 deficiency. Nutritional deficiencies can impair wound healing, while some nutrients (vitamins A and C, zinc, glucosamine) may reduce healing time and improve wound quality.
Beta-carotene and lycopene have also been shown to possess protective properties; they have been shown to prevent sunburns. A study demonstrated that beta-carotene further protects against light-induced immunosuppression. Vitamins C and E, as well as the reach in omega-3 fish oil reduce erythema (as well as DNA lesions caused by ultraviolet radiations), while the same is also reported for cocoa.
In addition to these, higher consumption of fish oils reduces the possibilities to develop actinic keratosis (a precancerous skin condition that may lead to squamous cell carcinoma in the areas of the body that are most exposed to the sun).
When it comes to food quantities, both malnutrition and excessive food intake can impair skin physiology. Indeed,obesity increases signiﬁcantly transepidermal water loss suggesting an alteration of skin barrier function. Moreover, it is correlated with various skin disorders, it can affectsebumproduction, it contributes to micro and macro circulation changes, and modify collagenmetabolism.
Apart from the beneficial effects of nutrition on skin’s health and beauty, supplements have also been found to be effective. Recently, an epidemiological study demonstrated that multivitamin use is associated with longer telomere length, which is a reliable marker of biological aging. In addition, certain nutritional supplements protect against the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation and help both in the management of skin aging and in the reduction of hair loss.
“The appearance of the skin reflects body’s health. Those who consume a lot of sugar and fat, for instance, will definitely develop gradually a duller skin that looks older, as these elements break down collagen faster, thus accelerating the aging process.
Now, during the summer, there are many fruits, vegetables and good fat foods that can supplement the body’s deficiencies, can support skin’s recovery after several months of exposure to the sun, and make the skin glowing and wonderful. These include strawberries, watermelon, melon, pineapple, papaya, mango, berries, avocados, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, purple amaranth, shellfish and sardines. Alcohol should be avoided, of course, and we should drink a lot of water.
Food supplements have an auxiliary effect; they are an additional source of nutrients to improve skin’s health and beauty. However, they should not be taken in an uncontrollable manner, but always with the consent of a dietitian and a physician”, Mr. Dimitris Oikonomakis concludes.